A new study suggests that cheerleaders face some of the worst injuries in high school sports, with concussions topping the list of the most common mishaps. Cheerleaders also report sprained ankles, muscle strains and bone fractures.
But the good news is that injury rate associated with the tremendously popular activity among high school students is one of the lowest in all athletic activities on U.S. school grounds. Researchers found that cheerleading ranks 18 on a list of 22 hazardous high school sports.
Dustin Currie, lead author of the study and researcher with Colorado School of Public Health, noted that cheerleading nowadays tends to be less of a sideline activity and morph into a full-fledged competitive sport. This may explain why injuries became more severe.
The study, which was published Thursday in the journal Pediatrics, was based on data gathered over the course of five years. Currie believes that the recent switch may be beneficial if more adolescents are persuaded to participate in athletics.
In the U.S., 400,000 teens are involved in cheerleading activities every year. Of these 123,000 engage in high-risk moves such as stunts, jumps, and pyramids.
Researchers also learned that male cheerleaders have a higher risk of injury than their female counterparts, and that most incidents happen during practice hours. Additionally, distractions are to blame for a large number of injuries.
Because some states refuse to classify the activity as a sport, high schools are not compelled to provide cheerleaders with a special place to practice. This is why they practice in hallways, parking lots and other locations that often distract them from what they are be doing.
Curries team found that only gymnastics involves more severe injuries than cheerleading in high-schools. An injury is deemed severe if it prevents the athlete from taking part in the activity for at least three weeks.
The recent study confirms the American Academy of Pediatrics’ report which showed that 66 percent of the most terrible injuries of high school athletes in more than two decades are attributed to cheerleading activities.
Researchers also noticed a rise in concussion rates among cheerleaders in the last ten years.
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